The poor eating habits of this college student make a good lesson in cardiovascular stewardship. My roommates and I went to college with little experience in cooking. We did not have much money either, and had to live very cheaply. Being poor did not necessarily mean we had to eat unhealthy foods, but we did not know that. Life was simple, and simple and convenient were the two most important criteria for making dinner. We lacked any understanding of what constituted healthy food, and lacked the skills on how to make it. Though we had lots of mathematical knowledge, we engineers-in-training did not have a clue or care about a balanced diet. All we really cared about was how to make it through the end of the month on a tight budget. At that time most of us lived on $100/month rent and about $100/month for food and everything else, excluding tuition and books etc. There were 4 of us guys living in an apartment, and we were among the fortunate few to each have our own room.
One of my favorite poor eating habits in college was to heat up a very large can of chili and add sliced hot dog chunks and cubes of cheddar cheese to it. The cheese would melt in and it became a gourmet chili! Another favorite poor eating habit in college was a faux Asian dish consisting of 8 packages of top ramen noodles heated to boiling, to which was added a half dozen eggs and 3 cans of tuna fish. The boiling soup would poach the eggs and give a realistic-looking egg flower soup effect. The tuna was a fishy addition to the concoction. The memory of these gourmet salty creations causes my hands to feel like they are puffing up and my heart feel as though it is laboring with every beat. A little finger pointing is in order here concerning one of my roommates’ poor eating habits, a. k. a the melted cheese sandwich dinner. The toast was first heavily coated with margarine, then thick slabs of cheddar were put on and melted in the oven. Next it was topped with creamy white mayonnaise, evenly spread on top of the melted cheese, and finally it was all seasoned with salt to taste. That was one heck of a juicy cheese slab, the toast providing structural support for the molten orange mass smothered with a white frosting. On an aside, it was not my idea to put the little hot doggies into the chili, though I did not object because they added a burst of salty tastiness to the chili. Though we were young and strong, that chili still hit pretty hard, and gave steady reminders of its presence until late at night.
On the healthier side, a good eating habit was what we called steak rice. We would take a piece of steak or ham, chop it up into chunks and fry it up, and then spice things up with sugar and soy sauce. We would then add onions and spices, allow the water to boil off, add more butter or margarine if needed. With a liberal amount of butter used to fry the steak, or more accurately Golden Soft® margarine, it would be ready for a huge pile of white rice which was then piled high on top. The rice sizzled in the butter and meat and was mixed in, glistening with succulent oils and aromas. To be fair, also had some good eating habits consisting of spaghetti, Hamburger Helper ®, and tacos, sometimes substituting ketchup for either tomatoes or hot sauce depending on what we ran out of.
All of my roommates had the same poor eating habits. We were all from the same food culture. We all sought convenience in cooking. We all had the same lack of imagination. No one questioned these eating habits, nor did anyone seek to change them. When I was growing up, my mother said she regretted feeding us a lot of unhealthy fatty, fried foods, and I was never taught how to cook. More often I was encouraged to leave the kitchen and stay out of the way. I remember her deep frying some very fatty cuts of pork. I loved it, because you could fry rice in that oil bath after cooking and spicing the pork. I am so thankful for my wife and the healthy meals she makes, and confess that I still find myself hunting for fat. She could cut it all off the steak and chicken but I know she leaves a little on just for me.
There are probably some lessons on “good eating habits for boys" here somewhere. Perhaps it is to consider training our sons to cook well for themselves. With no cooking skills, these four young men made do with four basic food groups - fatty, salty, processed, and convenience foods. Young parents, what if we trained our sons when they are young to cook a variety of healthy meals? We could teach the boys not to be lazy but to shop for and prepare vegetables, lean cuts of meat, whole grains, and ease up on the salt and fat. Maybe this family culture of good eating habits can rub off and as they go away from home and they will be good stewards of their health. Let us send our boys off with their favorite copy of San Francisco A La Carte, or at least a Betty Crocker Cookbook!
Rich Kimura is a project engineering manager, freelance writer, and entrepreneur. He has numerous technical papers, 1 patent and 2 pending, and 24 years experience in industry. He started numerous home businesses and has Crown Financial training. For more unique perspectives on personal finances, relationships, and spirituality, visit Cirrovista at http://www.cirrovista.com